Food forest idea grows

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A recent workshop in Ashburton has developed knowledge and enthusiasm for the idea of food forests.

The food forest concept functions as a healthy closed-loop ecosystem and aims to maximize the amount of food that can be grown in an area.

It mimics a natural forest, with similar layers of plants that serve different roles in the ecosystem.

The food forest builds soil and accumulates nutrients, self-fertilizes, self-mulches, self-regulates and produces food. It also sequesters carbon, supports pollinators and protects and enhances biodiversity.

The food forest workshop was sponsored and organised by Lesley Ottey, who runs Eco Educate and is contracted by Ashburton District Council to deliver the district’s water and waste education contract.

Mrs Ottey said 15 people from both town and country had attended the full day workshop at the Riding for the Disabled grounds and feedback had been very positive.

Gordyn Hamblyn from the Kaiapoi Food Forest has been the facilitator and had spoken about the concept and his involvement.

Kaiapoi was a good example of people coming together after the earthquakes and working on developing a reserve where food, vegetables and medicinal plants could be grown for the benefit of the community, she said.

“Food forests bring people together and through that connection comes inspiration and education, which in turn brings resilience.”

Mrs Ottey said food forests could be developed on any scale and depending on the space available.

She was looking forward to seeing them develop across the district.

To support that development Mrs Ottey has been able to pass on six apple trees to Trott’s Garden, which is eyeing up a future community garden. The trees are from food resilience group Edible Canterbury.

Trott’s has also be given cranberry and rosemary plants and a fig tree by Mrs Ottey. Useful garden tips and stories on the Eco Educate NZ Facebook page.